Fruitful Practice Research is a multi-agency team studying activities that promote the emergence, vitality, and multiplication of fellowships of Jesus followers in a Muslim context. Our work primarily serves the members of the Vision 5:9 Network.
Most of the Fruitful Practice Research team members have lived or are living in Muslim-majority settings. Various members of the team focus on conducting primary research, analysing the research, creating tools to help field teams benefit from the research, developing materials to train field teams in reflective practice, or writing and producing materials to make the research accessible to others.
The Lens of Knowledge Stewardship
We view the study of fruitful practices through the wider lens of knowledge stewardship. Knowledge stewardship involves reflecting and evaluating in the midst of tasks, generating ways to track who is learning principles for excelling in particular tasks, and nurturing an environment that gets fellow workers communicating. Knowledge stewardship creates conditions in which practical knowledge can be identified, discovered, captured, shared, distilled, validated, transferred, adopted, adapted, and applied to meet the mission and goals of an organisation.
Knowledge is in people. We seek to help people develop habits of reflective practice. And we aim to help people establish the relational connectivity along which knowledge can travel.
We believe we should be good stewards of not only time, money, and people, but also of the practical knowledge gleaned from experiences as we allow the Father to teach us. As we watch what the Father is doing and share from the knowledge we gain, we will become better stewards of his work and ambassadors for his kingdom.
A Brief Summary of Our Research Methodologies
An important goal of FPR is that the research process should yield applications that will be of benefit to those ministering among Muslims. Where There Was No Church: Postcards from Followers of Jesus in the Muslim World (EJ Martin, edl, Learning Together Press, 2010) and a significant part of From Seed to Fruit: Global Trends, Fruitful Practices, and Emerging Issues among Muslims (J. Dudley Woodberry, ed., William Carey Library, 2008), articles in the International Journal for Frontier Missiology, and materials released on this website are important fruits of this research.
Research results to date have depended in large part on the quantitative data and extended oral narratives gathered at the 2007 Global Trends and Fruitful Practices Consultation. These, in turn, were built on a cycle of research involving internal consultations among several mission agencies. We have employed a variety of research methods, including appropriate statistical analysis tools for the quantitative data coupled with analysis of the narratives to inform, illustrate, confirm, complete, or at times correct our findings from the qualitative data – or similarly using the quantitative data to help understand findings from the narratives. We recognize the limitations in this set of data and try to be very careful not to suggest prediction, but we do highlight sets of factors that have a significant correspondence with fruitfulness.
We are currently engaged in a new round of research to identify the activities and contextual factors of those engaged in witness that enhance the emergence, vitality, and multiplication of fellowships of Jesus-followers among Muslims. In our quantitative survey, we desire to compare reported fruitfulness, the perception and practice of the published Fruitful Practices, and various demographic variables. Our intention is to use high-level statistical analysis while recognizing that our data may help us point to significant trend and patterns, but not to prediction. This survey was reviewed by outside professional researchers and field-tested with a group whose mother tongue is not English, and was also translated into six other languages.
Coupled with this is a qualitative research project involving interviews with the members of 30 teams engaged in church planting among Muslims, selected to obtain a statistically appropriate spread across regions, agencies involved in the Vision 5:9 Network, and reported fruitfulness of the team. In-depth interviews of teams and individuals will be analyzed to identify key contextual factors, fruitful practices, and relationships between the factors identified and fruitfulness.
Findings from these two approaches will be compared and combined, the two-track approach providing greater confidence in confirmed findings. Further, many respondents have agreed to participate in a follow-up panel that can help us clarify and confirm our understanding of the data.
The work of Fruitful Practice Research is grounded not just in appropriate social science methodology but in current missiology. For example, one of our members, overseeing the quantitative survey project, holds a PhD in Intercultural Studies (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). Respected missiologists have also reviewed our work in the forums where we present our findings, including J. Dudley Woodberry, who edited From Seed to Fruit, and Brad Gill, editor of the International Journal for Frontier Missiology.
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